Spring training has been well underway for the Phillies for a few weeks now. Regulars are getting in shape, veterans are battling for jobs, and prospects are trying to make a good first impression.
So why can’t I watch any of it?
The Phillies will play 32 games this year during spring training, barring of course cancellations. Only ten of those games will be broadcast on television by NBC Sports Philadelphia.
10 out of 32.
Away spring games have traditionally never been broadcast, and that is almost understandable. But putting less than half of the games on TV in 2020 is inexcusable. We don’t even necessarily need it on television. A YouTube stream, Facebook live, Twitter, anything is better than nothing. There is a radio broadcast for more games, but this isn’t 1922. Fans want to see the game, not hear it.
This is supposed to be a time to build anticipation for baseball season. A time you can get your first look at players new to Phillies pinstripes. Remember last year how surreal it was to watch Bryce Harper step into the batter’s box in Clearwater for the first time? As I write this, Harper has hit two home runs in a game no one outside of Spectrum Field will see.
Spring games are also a way to get looks at highly-touted prospects. This year, Alec Bohm and Spencer Howard are major storylines for the upcoming Phillies season. Fans want to see these young players and get excited about them, especially in a year where many fans are discouraged and are predicting a fourth place team.
Let people watch their team
This isn’t just a Phillies problem. MLB has such an archaic understanding of broadcasting its games that it even has blackout policies that prevent fans from watching regular season games. The policies are way too complicated to explain in a post, but rest assured they are ridiculous and comically out of date.
The NFL broadcasts all four games of its preseason for every team, some of which are even nationally televised in prime time. This includes its infamous fourth preseason game, where many players you will never hear of again will play four quarters. Why do they do this? Because people will watch it, and the NFL can make money on it.
The MLB has a long, long, LONG, way to go to even come close to the might the NFL has. Who knows if it is even possible anymore. But, one way to increase popularity in baseball is, well, letting people watch baseball.